CD3Program NotesC

CD 3 - San Francisco 70s Free Music Scene
Part 3: The CDs
Emergent Music And Visual Music: Inside Studies
Ronald A. Pellegrino

Please note that as of 10/25/10 this and the other 7 CD pages on my site will include one sound sample and its associated program note, all the track titles for the particular CD, and an excerpt from the essay associated with the CD desciption found in my latest book, Realizing Electronic Dreams: A Composer's Notes and Themes. The new book includes complete essays for each CD plus detailed program notes for every track on every CD as well as numerous related photographs and illustrations.

If you do not have a good quality satellite sound system connected to the audio output of your computer, as the composer I would prefer that you NOT download the sound samples. My pieces are like my spirit children and I don't want them to be treated badly by inadequate transducers. It's already bad enough that the sound samples are compressed versions (a current internet requirement) of what you would hear from the CDs which are in themselves digitized (distorted) versions of the analog sounds as I heard them originally. To navigate those shoals I test and adjust all my sound samples on 7 different audio systems and 3 different computers in my personal studios and scores of both systems out in the world. In a nutshell, what I've found is that all built-in computer sound systems STINK and should never be used for music. If you are more than half-serious about music, connect at least a good audio system to your computer. The better the audio system, the richer and deeper your musical experience, and the closer to hearing the music as the composer did.

Furthermore, please remember that the sound samples are just samples--not highlights, not the pieces, just out of context highly compressed excerpts that hang together in ways that give a sense of what one might expect to hear from various tracks. It's important to get beyond confusing the samples for the pieces. If you are at all interested in the quality of music, listening to a CD via a good audio system gets your ears reasonably close to the original music. In any case, avoid settling for dumbed down audio. The difference between even a decent satellite audio system hanging on the end of a computer and what you would hear from good standalone audio system is like the difference between night and day. Often I hear from young people who've grown up with buds in the ears that they doubt they could hear the difference between mediocre and good audio. My response to them is that now is a good time to educate your ear so you can have a lifelong deeper appreciation of the power and beauty of sound to affect your soul. Much is lost when music is considered no more than a commodity to be squeezed into smaller and smaller storage spaces. Go for the systems that can handle bigger files; they tell better stories.


CD 3 - San Francisco 70s
Free Music Scene

Excerpt from associated essay, San Francisco 1970s Free Music Scene

"...The San Francisco Free Music Scene did not simply emerge, it positively erupted during the 1970s. The eruption had very little to do with the powerful and world famous Bay Area professional and academic establishments where people were doing exactly the same things they would do anywhere in the Western world—pursuing standard art and academic materialistic objectives. For priming the Free Music pump considerable credit needs to be given to the inspiring work of the resident and visiting artists of the Center For World Music during its 1973-74 tenure at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley. The Center had an outstanding educational program during the day and presented frequent evening concerts with very low ($2-$3) ticket prices so just about any musician could afford to be inspired by studying with and attending concerts by some of the greatest musicians in the world including such gems as Ali Akbar Khan, Zakir Hussain, and Ravi Shankar to name just a few.

In the beautiful sounding, intimate setting of St. John's, a building designed by Julia Morgan, one could hear composers and performers from South India, North India, West Africa, Java, Bali, Sudan, Japan, China, Korea as well as the USA and Europe. The sound in St. John's was all the more beautiful because this period was just before many great musicians were seduced by the idea of striving for rock star status thus felt compelled to "reinforce" (over-amplify to the point of distortion) their sound. With sound reinforcement the net effect was that music traditions born of acoustic settings were at best dumbed down acoustically to the point that even live music sounded canned, or at worst horribly distorted by inept music engineering (a common occurrence).

Hearing inspiring nonwestern music in a natural acoustic setting is a sure fire way of deprogramming western ears and liberating them to explore an expanded range of possible sounds and sound structures. During the heyday of the Center For World Music I lived in Berkeley walking distance from St. John’s, and for those many nights I spent in that heavenly environment I always had plenty of company. “Those of us fortunate to have been there under that roof at that one brief moment in time have been forever blessed by some of the most extraordinary art and artists the world has ever known...”

San Francisco Bay Area Free Music artists during that period tended to be young dreamers magnetically attracted to the Bay Area by its abundantly creative environment—a combination of its majestic topography, Mediterranean weather, richness and depth of the multicultural scene, and the very obvious brain and visionary power of potential collaborators populating the entire Bay Area. Notably those are the same factors that led to the emergence of Silicon Valley. In fact, a good number of people I knew in the 1970s Free Music Movement moved back and forth between the worlds of Silicon Valley and that of the free music artist, sometimes over a weekend and sometimes over months on end…"

Track Titles for CD 3 - San Francisco 70s Free Music Scene
plus program note and sound sample for Track 1


Track 1 - Light Feet (1978) is one of three tracks (Tracks 1, 2, and 8) recorded during a weekend gathering in Petaluma at the Kelly Lane Studios of Electronic Arts Productions. That gathering included musicians from a number of groups based and performing in the City of San Francisco; represented were people from The Future Primitive Art Ensemble of San Francisco, UBU, Pangea, Continuum, and The Real* Electric Symphony. Commonly in San Francisco during the mid 1970s I set up Real* Electric Symphony gigs that included other performance groups; The Future Primitive Art Ensemble of San Francisco was invited often. Leading that group were two extraordinary free music practitioners—David Simons on percussion and Charles Moselle on reeds, percussion, and musical toys. They are key players on Tracks 1, 2, and 8 of this CD.

Light Feet is drum circle music. Undoubtedly drum circles are one of music's most ancient social settings for making music and they remain with us today as important as ever. When I lived in Berkeley in the mid 1970s one of my daily rituals was a long hike up into the Berkeley Hills for a visit to a panoramic meditation spot and then down to Sproul Plaza on the UC campus where one would always find a drum circle, either around the fountain in front of Sather Gate or down in the lower section of the plaza in front of Zellerbach Auditorium. There were some regulars but the personnel would always change from day to day as well as over the course of the day. At the very least those drum circles were entertaining; at their best the music was downright inspiring often attracting energetic dancers out of the ether to form a whirling outer circle around the drummers. A few weeks before writing this note in early 2010 I was walking through a meadow at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and there they were—a drum circle surrounded by a dancing circle.

What you hear on this track, in addition to percussion and toys, are other instruments making brief sounds to rally and cheer on the drummers. The reverberation is completely acoustic; it's simply the sound of the room. Someone (no credit to me) had the foresight to invite to the party a KPFA audio engineer with a good ear; after a few days he left us with a passel of fine recordings. Sound Sample.


Track 2 - Saturday Sunrise (1978)
Track 3 - East Bay Hills (1974)
Track 4 - Ephemeral Forms: Mother Musing’s Flight Patterns (1976)
Track 5 - Charlie’s Affirmation (1977)
Track 6 - Rigor Mortis Dance Frenzy
Track 7 - Through The Arch (1976)
Track 8 - Vapor Trails (1978)
Track 9 - Friends Frolic And Baby Bubbles (1975)

To view selected sections of Emergent Music And Visual Music: Inside Studies, Part 1: The Book, click on one of the following:
Chapter 1, Emergent Music
Chapter 15, Visual Music Flavors

Information on Part 2: The DVDs.

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