Tag Archives: David Bernabo

We’re saving a seat for you.

Time is running out for you to use this:

Photo courtesy of HughShows.

What is this twine-wrapped stereo with sheets of comments next to it?  It is the listening station for DJ Responsibility’s FORMALISM, a project by all-around town, genre-defying musician David Bernabo.  The library’s FORMALISM project is well documented at the HughShows blog and in previous Eleventh Stack posts here and here.

Next month, after the twine is unwrapped and the sign is taken down, the 19 minute FORMALISM disc will go into the Music Department’s collection where we keep thousands of local recordings including other David Bernabo projects and bands.  But why not come in soon and sit down for a spell and be entranced by listening to the only available copy of an album?  It’s not on your friend’s iPod, it’s not piping in through the speakers at the mall, and it’s not floating around the Web.  It’s only in your ears when you’re sitting in a wooden chair in the library.  And perhaps it will stay in your mind long after.

— Tim

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“The artist has forced me to listen in a place of his choosing.”

The listening station for DJ Responsibility’s FORMALISM is up and running.  If you recall from my previous post, local musician David Bernabo created an album whose sole copy is here at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Music Department.

Listeners have left some intriguing comments on the sheets at the listening station and many of them fixate on the idea of “what it means to have a sense of place.”  We’re so used to having our music travel with us in the car, on the bus, while jogging, etc. that it’s a fun challenge to take 19 minutes of one’s time, sit in one specified chair in a busy library, and listen to the only copy of a piece of recorded music.

Here are a couple more comments:

It adds to it that I think about the other listeners sitting in the same place to do so. . . . I particularly like the way the music becomes the soundtrack for the ‘movie’ of the people moving around me in the library.

. . . the space itself is what overpowered me.  I was sort of “forced” to sit in the one seat facing the stacks of DVDs.  Had it been any other location, any other seat, the experience would have been different.

These quotes reinforce that music and its context are inextricably linked.  So I invite you to come in and listen to FORMALISM.  You’ll arrive with such personal items as your life experience, your mood, your own musical tastes, but there you’ll be, in the same chair that others have sat in, watching a similar but shifting view.  The end result, though, is a unique experience of listening.  Wow.

— Tim

The composer/bandleader reviews his work in its contextual home. Photo courtesy of Hugh Shows Photography.

See more photos at Hugh’s blog.


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One Copy Only and We’ll Have It

Starting Monday, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Music Dept is excited to be the sole holder of a new CD by David Bernabo.  That’s right.  One copy will be made, we’ll have it, and we want you to come in and hear it.

Here’s the press release:


After the recent Assembly LP, five solo records, seven Vale and Year records, two scores for Nintendo Wii games, and involvement with Boca Chica, Daryl Fleming, Nathan Hall, Boxstep, Jack Wilson, and DBLD, Pittsburgh musician David Bernabo is pursuing a more conceptual approach to a new album under the name DJ Responsibility. The album, titled Formalism, is being released as a single CD, meaning, one copy only.

The extremely limited copy is not available for sale, but will be presented as a free installation in the Music Department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland from April 19-May 31, 2010. Passers-by are invited to listen to the 19-minute album through headphones. The project aims to set up the contradiction between exclusive and freely-available, placing itself in the middle of special edition and boutique records, art installation, and the growing trend of free music (via Bandcamp, free album streams, illegal downloads).

The music itself spans a number of genres and styles, from the TV-show segues of “Before the Event” and “During the Event” to the electronic time changes in “Nearer, the Twelve Bens”. “As In Form” starts as an interplay between field recordings and glitches, transitions into a clip-filled electric piano dirge, and ends with a race of vibraphone and electronic synths. The closing track, “After the Event”, blends tight drums with harpsichord, electric piano, and the sounds of a lightning storm on Saturn.

Made up of local composers, the vocal quintet Vocal Assembly makes a guest appearance in “Voice, and Then”, which is an attempt to translate the art of Paul Klee into music. Some of the sounds that creep into the piece include streams and abandoned coal plants in Shamokin, PA, gate doors in Point State Park, and piano and vibraphone sessions performed by composer Nathan Hall and Bernabo.

“Nero and His Fire” opens with filmmaker and musician tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE playing chains, bass drum, a bicycle wheel, and the “Wheel-of-Fortune” before erupting into a flurry of Bernabo-play instruments and overlapping time signatures.

Starting as a joke during the Vale and Year days, DJ Responsibility has come into existence to spread the word of responsibility in music creation and distribution.

Thanks to the generosity of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the album will be available in the Music Department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland during normal library hours, Monday through Thursday – 10AM to 8PM, Friday and Saturday – 10AM to 5:30PM, and Sunday 12PM to 5PM.

Cool idea, eh?  Can’t wait to see you here with headphones on.

— Tim

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