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IrRational Music by Elliott Sharp
Published by Terra Nova Press, soft hardback, 248 pp, 2019
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Terra Nova Press writes:
“A memoir and manifesto by a pivotal figure at the junction of rock, the avant garde and an ever-widening spiral of art, theatre, film and dance.
“For over five decades, Elliott Sharp has been engaged in a quest at once quixotic and down to earth: to take the music he hears in his inner ear and bring it to life in the real world. In this vivid memoir and manifesto, Sharp takes us along on that quest, through some of the most rugged, anarchically fertile cultural terrain of our time. Sharp, a mainstay of the New York Downtown scene beginning in the 1980s, has been a pivotal figure at the junction of rock, experimental music and an ever-widening spiral of art, theatre, film and dance. Rooted in blues, rock, jazz and the 20th century avant garde, Sharp’s innovative music has encompassed fractal geometry, chaos theory, algorithms, genetic metaphors and new strategies for graphic notation.
“In IrRational Music, Sharp dodges fake cowboys’ real bullets by the side of a highway near Colby, Kansas; is called on the carpet by a prickly, pompadoured Morton Feldman (‘Improvisation… I don't buy it’); segues from Zen tea to single malt with an elfin John Cage; conjures an extraterrestrial opera from a group of high school students in Munich; and – back in his own high school days – looks up from strumming Van Morrison’s “Gloria” in Manny’s Music on 48th Street to see Jimi Hendrix smiling benignly upon him. A mix of tales from the road with thoughts on music, art, politics, technology, and the process of thinking itself, IrRational Music is a glimpse inside the mind of one of our most exacting, exciting creative artists.
“Elliott Sharp is a composer and multi-instrumentalist. He was awarded the Berlin Prize in Music in 2015 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014. His composition Storm Of The Eye for violinist Hilary Hahn appeared on her Grammy-winning album In 27 Pieces.”
“It’s rare to find the question ‘why am I a musician?’ answered so thoroughly, so directly, so specifically, as Elliot Sharp does in his IrRational Music” – The Wire
“IrRational Music is a fascinating window into that moment in time when music opened up to everyone and all things became possible” – Morton Subotnick
“Graceful and insightful... calm and warm” – The Brooklyn Rail
“IrRational Music is a must-read for any guitarist operating outside the mainstream” – Guitar Moderne