Elegy, for Jon

Posted 19 November 2009, 02:40

Jon playing his Guild, 1966

Jon Gams, my closest friend (aside from my wife) for the past 34 years, passed away 11 days ago. It was a complete shock — he got the flu, and he was gone. He was one month short of his 58th birthday.

Jon and I met in 1975, when I was 17 and he was 24, in Great Barrington, MA where I was going to college and he was living. He was looking for someone to play guitar with. We were musical partners, friends and brothers from our first meeting. We had a band in NYC called People Falling from the late ’70’s through the ’80’s and continued to collaborate well into the ’90’s. In the past few years we continued to work together sporadically, but we were too busy with other things and lived too far apart to be productive, a reality that we were finally able to acknowledge to each other only this past September.

(You can hear the last completed piece that we wrote and recorded together, called “Fascists Call Beauty A Joke”, using the music player on the front page of this site, or you can download it. It was published on a CD that accompanied issue #5 of Lingo, the arts magazine that Jon edited and published in the ’90’s.)

“Elegy, for Jon” is a variant of “Solar Midnight”, the second track of my Complex Silence 4 release. I had wanted to make a version that was tuned in just intonation; the original uses an “irrational” tuning based on the Golden Ratio. It is a very slow three-voice mensuration canon in a simple scale, first played at the same starting pitch and then with three different starting pitches.

As I worked on this rearrangement/retuning I realized that it was taking on a strongly elegiac quality. I completed it on Saturday, November 7, 2009 in the early afternoon. Then I went out to make some field recordings of a river. The following morning I learned that it had been Jon’s last day on Earth. It was a week before I could think about this music again and realized what it was for.

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Copyright 2009 by Dave Seidel, some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Elegy, for Jon by Dave Seidel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.


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