9/20 | Musique Concrète élégie “They’re Still Here” by BC Grimm now available for download, honoring loved ones who’ve passed


They’re Still Here” Liner Notes

Composed, Recorded and Premiered in August of 2018 by BC Grimm (b 1986) for the 2018 Madison New Music Festival. All instruments performed by BC Grimm. Available for Download on September 20th, 2019 to mark one year since Grandma Joyce’s passing. This release is also in remembrance my Grandma Nerren who passed away this summer, her 97th birthday would have been on September 17th. Much love to both my Grimm and Nerren families.

[About the Work]
Those who have passed away continue to pop up in the everyday moments of our lives. This work explores the modern dichotomy of navigating grief and mourning whilst carrying on with your work day and life obligations. You’ll hear field recordings of my day-to-day experience fused with instrumental composition and sound design. These “scenes” reference and even recreate real life moments I had in 2018 while in the wake of a series of close friend and family deaths. Many scenes are embedded with inside jokes or nods to the loved ones who passed. In addition, some scenes imagine what may be taking place for the dying at the transition between this world and the next. I felt that I didn’t give myself permission to truly process my grief publicly when this was all happening – how many of us are quietly carrying around these feelings at the same time?

A month after the premier of this work, I felt like I’d had a chance to process and contextualize my feelings and was scheduled to perform the piece a second time on 9/20/2018. Ironically, that was the day my Grandma Joyce passed away and the themes of this piece played out in front of me once again, in real time. I received “the call” right before leaving for work in the morning and had 3 jobs to work that day… run to the next run to the next run to the next. But on that day, I told everyone of the news I’d just heard and what I was going through internally. It helped me to get through that day without breaking down. I just couldn’t believe it had happened again, like clockwork. I’d like to thank Taralie Peterson, who performed a set of free improvisation as a duet with me that night. It was the first time that whole day I was able to let out and explore my feelings about my Grandmother’s passing.

[Dedications]
The 2018 composition, recording and performance of “They’re Still Here” is dedicated in loving memory to Patrick Kelly, Ross Sutherin & Brian White-Stout and to the Grimm, Sutherin, Kelly, Morrow, White-stout & Brethauer families. I’d like to dedicate the 2019 public releasing of this music to my Grandma Joyce & Grandma Nerren, and to my Nerren and Grimm families. Both grandmas passed away in the last year since the making of this piece. I miss you both very much and think of you often when I play cello now.

[Album Art]
A special heartfelt thank you to one of my Art heroines growing up, Aunt Jean (daughter of Grandma Joyce) who made the Album Art for this release. I’m so glad we were able to collaborate on this special project.

[On Listening]
“They’re Still Here” is meant to be listened to and contemplated in one continuous sitting. Therefore the movements haven’t been separated, to facilitate the best listening experience (as it was performed live).


PROGRAM NOTES

[00:00] SCENE I “Passing of a Friend, The Work Day Begins”
Tenor Viola da Gamba with field recording

[02:31] SCENE II “News Cycle On Fire: Rbt. Mueller’s Lonely Russia Probe”
Gaohu Cantonese fiddle with foley, field recording, 1940’s radio broadcast, singing bowls, violoncello, dizi flute, bawu flute, xiao flute, sheng mouth organ

[04:25] SCENE III “Do I Tell The Children? No, Teach On.”
Violoncello with field recording, pipa lute, tenor viola da gamba, contracello

[06:27] SCENE IV “Fluorescence Hums The Harmonic Order of Nature”
APC40 (electric hum in Just Intonation)

[10:31] SCENE V “Morning Routine, Scrambled Brains”
Field Recording with foley

[13:00] SCENE VI “A Call With My Brother, Wise Counsel”
*Sarangi-Cello in pipa tuning with claps, cajon, Tyler’s motorcycle

[14:55] SCENE VII “Ask The Corn Spirits”
Bawu flute with gaohu fiddle

[17:28] SCENE VIII “Hermie’s Chimes, They’re Still Here”
Guqin Zither (tuned to Hermie’s chimes) with pipa lute, gaohu fiddle, dizi flute

[21:07] SCENE IX “Funeral Grave”
solo Violoncello

[22:22] SCENE X “Temple of Ancestors”
Sarangi-Cello in pipa tuning with pipa lute, synthesis

[24:29] SCENE XI “Transfigurations”
Guqin zither with pipa lute, Russian folk harp, singing bowls

[27:27] SCENE XII “Schoolyard in Snow; Children Play On”
Tenor Viola da Gamba, APC40 (electric hum in equal temperament), field recordings,
foley

  • “sarangi-cello” (d, g, a, d’) is tenor-violin (normally G, d, a, e’ or G, d, a, d’) tuned in pipa lute tuning with alternating wound and plain gut strings. I use a Nakatani-Kobo bow to help create a ‘sarangi-style’ on cello. The bowed Sarangi of North India and Pakistan is normally tuned to Sa=E (e, b, e’). I have my cello modeled after this tuning but a wholestep lower where Sa=D, where my guruji pt. Sugato Nag tunes his sitar. The sarangi has 3 melodic strings and the cello has 4, so I have tried a number of different tuning schemes and have settled on the Pipa Chinese lute tuning – as it is the most settled and advantageous one I have tried: d wound gut, g plain gut, a wound gut, d’ plain gut or silk. Alternate tunings I have used: (1) d, a, g, d’ (2) d, g, g, d’ (3) d, a, a, d’

6/2 | Uncle Valentine (Philly) + BC Grimm, Tarek Sabbar, Raj’r Taim @ Art In

Sun, 6/2 | 7:30pm, $7 @ Art In, Madison WI
1444 E Washington Ave, Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Two electric cellists Uncle Valentine and BC Grimm come head to head for a duo set at Art In + sound scaping analog electronic sets from Madison’s own Raj’r Taim and Tarek Sabbar!

Uncle Valentine (Philly, on tour) + BC Grimm duo set
The solo project of Rachel Icenogle, a versatile cellist based in Philadelphia with a mind for new and interesting sounds. Uncle Valentine thrives in the scratchy, creaky, whirly sounds the cello can make, layering diverse musical textures in a lush groundwork for wild fables about insects and impressionistic stories about human batteries.

Rachel also composes music for puppet shows with Company Aiello, and is also a member of the Philadelphia band Upholstery.  Rachel has performed improvisation with Roscoe Mitchell and has collaborated as a musician with several independent theater and dance groups in Philadelphia (BRAT Productions, Ombelico Mask Ensemble, Transmissions Theater, SWARM, and Birds on a Wire). She also often records cello for other bands, including in the last year on new albums from both Eric Slick and Hop Along.  With a passion for the unique and unexpected, Rachel sets herself apart as a performer, always seeking opportunities to diversify and discover new artistic expression.


Raj’r Taim (Mad)
Live P.A. All analog electronic soundscape. Unique rhythms and catchy synth melodies bring otherworldly yet familiar moods that coax the listener to contemplate the complexities and texture of sound.


Tarek Sabbar (Mad)
Austere electronic music combining motorik drums, bleak ambience, and angular synthesis.


8/10-12 | Madison New Music Festival 2018, “They’re Still Here” premiere

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Madison New Music Festival Schedule

Friday, 8/10 7:30pm at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St.

MNMF Opening Night 2018: Sounds of the ’60s and Beyond!  [tickets]

Hear sounds born out of the ’60s counterculture with works exploring minimalism, social and political engagement, and electronic experimentation, as well as the music they inspired for decades to come. The program will include a mixture of instrumental, vocal, and electroacoustic music, with featured guest artist Conduit. Highlights include composer and Lawrence Conservatory faculty Evan Williams’ “Bodies Upon the Gears” for clarinet, viola, and audio from Mario Savio’s 1964 speech urging the importance of civil protest; Steve Reich’s “New York Counterpoint” for amplified clarinet and tape; and Andy Akiho’s “Stop Speaking” for solo snare in conversation with digital playback. There will be a cash bar, as well as opportunities to explore the exhibits, including the MMoCA’s current exhibition “Far Out: Art of the 1960s.”

Complete Program: Music by Melissa Dunphy, Angelica Negron, Evan Williams, Steve Reich, Gilda Lyons, Anna Meadors, Kyle Tieman-Strauss, David Lang, and Andy Akiho

Performed by: Conduit (Zach Manzi, clarinet and Evan Saddler, percussion); Caitlin Mead, soprano; Kristina Teuschler, clarinet; ZouZou Robidoux, cello; Jeremy Kienbaum, viola; Heather Zinninger Yarmel, flute.

Saturday, 8/11 2:00pm at Bethel Lutheran, 312 Wisconsin Ave.

MNMF Concert #2: Sounds of Reflection [tickets]

Madison New Music Festival continues with an afternoon program that invokes spirituality, morality, and reflection. Hear music including organ interludes performed by Madison Symphony Orchestra organist Greg Zelekand Vital Organ Project founder Tyler Jameson Pimm, soundscapes for viola and piano by Morton Feldman and Toru Takemitsu, African spirituals arranged for instrumental chamber ensemble, and the renowned Langston Hughes set to music by composers including Madison’s Scott Gendel.

Tickets: $15/$5 for students.

Program: Music by Toru Takemitsu, Trevor Weston, Morton Feldman, Daniel Ficarri, John Weaver, Tyler Pimm, Tania J. Leon, John Musto, Ricky Ian Gordon, and Scott Gendel.

Performed by: Jeremy Kienbaum, viola; Satoko Hayami, piano; Caitlin Mead, soprano; Scott Gendel, piano; Kristina Teuschler, clarinet; Micah Cheng, cello; Alex Norris, violin; Greg Zelek, organ; and Tyler Jameson Pimm, organ.

Sunday, 8/12 7:30pm at Robinia Courtyard, 829 E Washington Ave

MNMF Closing Night 2018! [tickets]

Polish off your weekend with a drink at Robinia Courtyard as you listen to the world premiere of “They’re Still Here,” a new work by local multi-instrumentalist B.C. Grimm featuring 9 instruments ranging from cello to Chinese pipa. Then, kick back for a set of solo string music from violinist Aaron Yarmel and violist Jeremy Kienbaum, featuring pieces by Philip Glass, Ursula Mamlock, and one of Yarmel’s own improvisations. Finally, musicians from all three concerts close out the festival together with a performance of Julius Eastman’s “brilliant and brazen” 1973 piece, “Stay On It.” This rarely performed work ends our musical weekend with a bang– and a groove! There will be a cash bar.


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Live set up for BC Grimm’s new 30min piece, “They’re Still Here”.

“They’re Still Here”  Program Notes

Composed August, 2018 by BC Grimm (b 1986) for the Madison New Music Festival

This piece explores how those who have passed away continue to pop up in the everyday moments of our lives.  You’ll hear field recordings of my day-to-day experience fused with instrumental sound design.  These scenes recreate and reference real life moments I’ve had in the wake of these deaths.

“They’re Still Here” is dedicated in loving memory to Patrick Kelly, Ross Sutherin & Brian White-Stout and to the Grimm, Sutherin, Kelly, Morrow, White-Stout & Brethauer families.

Scene I   Passing of a Friend, The Work Day Begins

Tenor Viola da Gamba with field recording

Scene II   News Cycle On Fire: Rbt. Mueller’s Lonely Russia Probe

Gaohu Cantonese fiddle with foley, field recording, 1940’s radio broadcast, singing bowls, violoncello, dizi flute, bawu flute, xiao flute, sheng mouth organ

Scene III   Do I Tell The Children?  No, Teach On.

Violoncello with field recording, pipa lute, tenor viola da gamba, violoncello, contracello

Scene IV   Fluorescence Hums The Harmonic Order of Nature

APC40 (electric hum in just intonation)

Scene V   Morning Routine, Scrambled Brains

Field Recording with foley

Scene VI   A Call With My Brother, Wise Counsel

Sarangi-Cello in pipa tuning with claps, cajon, motorcycle

Scene VII   Ask The Corn Spirits

Gaohu fiddle with bawu flute

Scene VIII   Hermie’s Chimes, They’re Still Here

Guqin Zither with pipa lute, gaohu fiddle, dizi flute

Scene IX   Funeral Grave

Violoncello

Scene X   Temple of Ancestors

Sarangi-Cello in pipa tuning with pipa lute, synthesis

Scene XI   Transfigurations

Guqin zither with pipa lute, Russian folk harp, singing bowls

Scene XII   Schoolyard in Snow; Children Play On

Tenor Viola da Gamba,

APC40 (electric hum in equal temperament), field recordings, foley


 

Cello Zone! Student String Recommendations

“Which strings should I get for my cello?”

It’s a common question to receive as a cello teacher and quite honestly, a difficult one to answer.  The gauge, tension, materials, and action of our strings make a significant difference in the tone and sound production of the cello.  Each instrument has a different voice, which requires experimentation in what type of string is best to use.  The same brand of strings on two different cellos will ultimately yield unique results.  “String-Brand-A” may sound excellent on my cello, but be a totally wrong for yours….  With so many brands and prices, which one do you choose?  Thankfully, Johnson String Instrument Shop has made it easier for me to share cello string combinations via student wish lists!  Here are three sets/combos of strings to get you started, in order of low to high price. [ 2020 edit: I am updating all of the product and gear purchase links across my website this year ]

** All string sizes listed below are 4/4 Full Size.  If you need to order 1/2 or 3/4 size cello strings, be sure to select that option when ordering!!


Want to book a cello lesson?

Live in Sun Prairie?

email Prairie Music & Arts:  info@prairiemusic.org,

cc: bgrimm@prairiemusic.org

Live on the west side of Madison?

email Monroe Street Arts Center:  info@monroestreetarts.org

cc: brian@monroestreetarts.org


 D’Addario Prelude – reliable set on a budget or backup strings

Pros:  Affordable, yet still sounds good and plays well!  I use them on my homemade electric cello (#frankencello) and I find them to be flexible and reliable.  They have stood up to some extreme playing conditions encountered during gigs.  The nickel winding helps the low strings pop out of your cello.  If you need more brightness in your low end, try these strings (rather than the more dull silver winding of the Helicore).

Cons:  Not as pitch stable as Kaplans or Helicores.  The “center of pitch” feels slightly mushy… this is hard to describe and may be due to the nickel winding, which is on all strings.

Set Includes:

  • Prelude 4/4 Cello Set A, D, G & C – nickel wound / steel core: Medium

Prelude (D’Addario) set – solid steel core string that is durable and not affected by temperature and humidity changes. Prelude strings have a clear, bright sound without the shrill sound of traditional steel strings, and have a quick bow response.


Brian Grimm D’Addario Kaplan-Helicore Combo

Pros: Great for multi-style playing.  Holds tuning very well.  Quick response.  Fairly loud sound production.  This has been the string combo on my concert cello from 2013 to 2017. They have proven to be suitable across many genres… however, I’m now moving on to some other brands of strings in search of a richer, mellower sound.

Cons: As the Kaplan A & D strings age, they get a bit metallic and scratchy sounding (especially in the high end).  Not as subtle as Jargar, Larsen, Pirastro strings.

Combo Set Includes:

Kaplan (D’Addario) set – strings offer a beautiful, rich tonal palette and superb bowing response. They provide clarity and warmth across the registers and throughout the dynamic range.

Helicore (D’Addario) set  multi-strand, twisted steel core strings have a small string diameter, providing a quick bow response. Thanks to special manufacturing techniques, Helicore strings have a warm, clear sound with excellent pitch stability and longevity.


Janet Marshall (My Classical Teacher) Jagar-Larsen Combo

aka “The Denmark Combo”

Pros:  Powerful low end sound.  Beautiful rich tone.  I very much enjoyed this combo when playing Brahms and other Romantic era pieces.  Jargar has since come out with two new lines of string that I haven’t tried: Thin/dolce & Thick/forte. There isn’t a huge price jump on those and are worth trying, depending on your #soundgoals.

Cons:  Larsen strings are costly, you pay for that good sound; the C string itself is $100.  Sometimes my Jargar A & D strings would be a bit unstable & drop pitch over the course of a piece.

Combo Set Includes:

  • Jargar Cello A & D – chrome wound / steel core: Medium
  • Larsen Cello G & C – tungsten wound / steel core: Medium

Jargar – Bright, full sound, quick response. Made in Denmark, these steel core strings are favored by many solosits. Jargar strings are known for their powerful, well-balanced tone.

Larsen – Made in Denmark, Larsen strings are aimed at soloists in need of a string with projection.


Additional resources on selecting strings:


Find out more about Cello Lessons with Brian Grimm

Cellist Brian Grimm is a composer, performer and teacher based out Madison, WI.  Though Classically trained and studied in Jazz, Brian also grew up surrounded by Chinese instruments.  This has pulled him into a life passion for learning music from all around the world.  Brian’s teachers include members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the WuJi Ensemble (Hong Kong), the Buselli–Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, & Sitar virtuoso Pt. Sugato Nag (India).

Click on my beard to book a Cello Zone Lesson!