with Charlemagne Palestine
date_from 1 4/11/2018
Charlemagne Palestine was born in Brooklyn, and studied at New York University, Columbia University,
Mannes College of Music, and the California Institute of the Arts.
While sometimes affiliated with the Minimalist Music current (Glass, Reich, …) Charlemagne Palestine
bonded with artists such as Tony Conrad or Simone Forti, who defied categories. His iconoclast
character lead him far from an obvious path that John Cage or Richard Serra could have
Trained as a cantor, he performs almost systematically his own works, mostly on keyboards and
voice. Charlemagne embodies his music: he’s the only one who can play it, but, literally, his body is
the instrument. The series of video performances initiated by Body Music (1973-74) is the best
exemple: his body becomes a resonating instrument, in a way close to sound poetry, body art and
contemporary dance, but quite unique at the same time.
As his music material is often done on the spot in a shamanic process, there are no actual score.
Yet, they exist nonetheless as cryptic diagrams and sketches: they give a shape to his mental process,
before or after the musical execution. One of the most remarkable occurrence of these
scores is a series of books containing never ending waves of colorful ink.
People were asking me « Why don’ you do a score » for such a long time and I was like « Okay, I’ll do a
score » For me the books were scores even the people were saying they were not. (Conversation with Luca
Lo Pinto, Gesammttkunnstt MeshuggahhLaandttttt)
Although not transcriptions of any music piece in particular, Charlemagne’s scores can be seen as
companions to the music, and are important to anyone who interested in his music and art: a magical